Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You know you know that guy

This is hilarious. A blogger (the blog's called "I want to go to the zoo with Roy Halladay") wrote character sketches for which Philadelphia Phillie is which player on your company softball team. For example: Ben Francisco -- "He wears all the latest Under Armour and Nike gear, is really fit, runs fast, has a strong arm, and it's evident that he goes to the gym regularly and can beat the crap out of you. But he sucks."

Even if you're not a Phillies fan (I'm not) and/or not a company softball-team player (I'm not) this is just flat-out good fun writing. And from my already-held impressions of Phillies' players, this blogger nailed it.

*Thanks to Pat Abdalla for flagging this one.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Overcoming obstacles in video storytelling

As part of Living's 'Senses' project, Kate Penn produced a video about a deaf couple raising a hearing child. Brad passed along this note, which talks about challenges Kate faced and how she dealt with them:

"The video that goes with this week's Sense/Ability story had some cool challenges involved.

The Drawbaughs answered Kate's questions with sign language, and Kate had to match up their responses with the interpretor's translations. (The interpretor doesn't speak as they are signing, she gathers their statement and then repeats it afterward.) So once Kate assembled the video, she reconnected with the interpretor, who came here and helped her place the responses at the right moments during editing. 

Another challenge was showing "B roll" while still keeping the Drawbaughs on screen so their signing could be seen.

Some interesting obstacles, but she put it all together well."

A recurring theme

I saw this line in a wire story today -- Rendell said Thursday that if those differences persisted and legislators took no action on the bills in the next 10 days, he would be required under the state constitution to veto the hard-fought budget -- and, as I stumbled over what exactly a "hard-fought budget" would be, I figured I'd point out (not for the first time) about modifiers and why they're silly sometimes.

 Obviously the writer is trying to tell you, in two words, that legislators have really wrestled over this budget. But to me, using "hard-fought" to modify budget is a lazy and, when you think about it, ineffective way to do it.

I don't think a budget itself can be "hard-fought" any more than it can be "purple-tinged" or "foul-smelling" or
"mouse-quiet." You could describe the process as hard-fought, maybe. But why attach a modifier to it at all? Why not trust your reporting and writing skills and write a sentence that says, "Legislators worked 16-hour days and argued for weeks over spending cuts and taxes," for example?

It's the same as writing "tragic accident" or "uplifting victory." Just show the reader what happened. Those little modifiers don't do nearly the work we sometimes think they do.